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If you are following the Sweets Team on Instagram you may have figured out a couple of things over the past week. Those Ice cream sandwiches they are all posting about have to be amazing and the Gallaghers probably don’t dance as hard as George Marshall does. Currently the Team is on their way from Osaka to Hatsukaichi where Kedama was born and the Kendama World Cup is held.

From the outside looking in KWC is a very hard competition to comprehend. The competition comes down to assembling 3 minute heats in which the players attempt to land tricks from levels 1 - 12. Each player has equal advantage and disadvantage when assembling what tricks make it into their runs. The goal is to set a score high enough to move them to the finals and hopefully take home the win.

I talked to some of our players headed out there to find out what they do to prepare and Sweets himself to find out how the scoring works.


Scoring


Day 1: Players pick 10 tricks from a list of 100 tricks that they want to land in the first and second round. Tricks range from 1 - 10 points. Players choose 5 tricks for the first round and 5 tricks for the second round. They have 3 minutes each round to land the tricks that they picked. Their score is the total points gained in the two rounds. It usually takes 80 or more points to make it to the final day.

Day 2: Finalists get 3 minutes on stage to land as many tricks as possible. Tricks are picked from the grid of 144 tricks. This round scores are squared by themselves to get the point total. Here are some examples: 3 point trick = 9 points, 10 point trick = 100 points, 12 point trick = 144 points. Last year So Kanada set the all time high score with 1300 points.




Lukas Funk

What do you do to prepare for and event like KWC and how is practicing for this event different from others?

When it comes to KWC, I make sure to try and do the tricks minimum one time every day. I think a competition like KWC comes down to muscle memory and confidence. In the heat of the moment it can be very nerve-racking so having the confidence and muscle memory to land all your tricks under pressure is essential.

How do you design and structure your heats?

I typically like to organize my qualifying heats/runs so that tricks of similar style are in the same run together. Say out of my 10 tricks, 4 of them are lunar/inward lunar. I will make sure to have them all in the same run so I can find my groove for that trick and feel more comfortable lacing them.

What is your ideal set up consist of?

Natty till death! Just too good in Japan. Although, If I'm using cushion clear, I usually will have a towel around to dry off my hands when I get sweaty from a sesh in the hot weather

What is your favorite part about traveling to Japan or the World Cup?

The best part is being able to freely travel and explore an incredible foreign country with all your friends from around the world. Its unbelievably cool to be with some of your best friends in a place entirely on the other side of the globe.

I also can't lie, I love the adrenaline rush you get from competing in such a high-profile competition

What Your favorite trick in this years list (all levels)?

I'd say my favorite trick this year is Yukie Yao's level 10. I'm a big fan of the double flip out, double inward kenflip juggle to spike.

Click the video below to see Yukie's Yao's Trick:





Zack Gallagher


What do you do to prepare for and event like KWC and how is practicing for this event different from others?

As soon as the tricks come out, I gage what my prelims will look like and narrow down what tricks I will practice. After I fully analyze the tricks, I put some prelims together and make sure the points I have are higher than the previous year’s cutoff, just to be safe. After I practice prelims for a week or so, I form my final run and just keep practicing and revising it until the day of KWC.

Practicing for this event is different than others because it’s on the greatest stage and it’s a completely different competition style than normal open division or freestyle. I feel like it’s a combination of the two, because golden assigns tricks to practice months in advance, but the tricks that are assigned are much more freestyle-esque. The tricks that gloken gives for the World Cup, typically the higher level tricks, are not some that are typically put in an open division. On top of all this, going to Japan is a whole other world in terms of climate, so I make sure I revise my runs there too as I get used to the heat and humidity.

How do you design and structure your heats?

This relates to my last answer

What is your ideal set up consist of?

My ideal setup the past 2 years have been a maple homegrown ken X ash homegrown tama. While I will still be bringing that setup this year, I think I will be competing with a maple homegrown ken X cushion tama.

What is your favorite part about traveling to Japan or the World Cup?

The people are what make the traveling/event so great. Not only do I get to see the majority of my American friends in Japan, but I get to see my Japanese friends as well. Seeing the Japanese players is awesome because I usually only see most of them once a year, so I always make sure I make the best of my time when I’m with them.

What Your favorite trick in this years list (all levels)?

I don’t really have a favorite trick, but I like the majority of the level 9s and 10s.


Isaac Fine


What do you do to prepare for and event like KWC and how is practicing for this event different from others?

I pick out the tricks I want in my preliminary runs a few weeks after the tricks are announced.  After that I try to go through them as often as I can (with school and work sometimes it’s only a few times a week).  Once it gets closer to the event I start making myself complete my runs in the allotted 3 minutes for each run. Practicing for the KWC is different than other events because I have to put a lot more time into learning and mastering the tricks because of their high difficulty.  

How do you design and structure your heats?

I basically go through all the higher level tricks ( levels 7-10) and pick out ones that I think I can do or learn pretty quickly.  After that it’s about making sure my two preliminary runs are balanced difficulty-wise.

What is your ideal set up consist of?

A tama that’s nicely broken in around the bevel for stalls and pretty tacky for lunars (usually either cushion cleared or prime paint), and a next gen maple ken is my go to.  

What is your favorite part about traveling to Japan or the World Cup?

My favorite part is meeting up with other members of the sweets team and exploring Japan.  Tokyo is definitely the coolest city of I’ve been to

What Your favorite trick in this years list (all levels)?

Swivel ghost tap 1 turn inward lunar, tap 1 turn in (level 9)

Here is Chris June's Level 9 Trick.

 

If this was not enough to get you excited for this years World Cup make sure to check out Cooper Eddy's Japan Edit from 2016 to give you a glimpse into what it's like to travel to the KWC.

 

Article By: Zack Sieger